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small business exporting

Friday 23 April, 2010

I caught this article by Ann Meyer on the front page of the Chicago Tribune business section Small businesses: Exporting to extend reach which seems to be another lame attempt by a local journalist to write about what’s happening in the world.  Apparently she attended the Illinois Small Business Export Promotion Forum , talked to a few attendees, & wrote about it.  She belabored that exporting is not creating many jobs, but the fact is IT IS producing jobs when few other industry sectors are.

My beefs:  Promark won an Export Achievement Certificate when a customer, the airport in New Delhi, found them on the internet & contacted them.  It’s great that they got the business, but do we really want to support passively waiting for customers to come banging on the door via the internet.  Get proactive rather than passive people.

Dan Brown, adjunct associate professor @ Northwestern & President of Loggerhead Tools, says, promoting exports “looks good as a headline, but it’s not a real executable opportunity.”  Checking the dealer locator on his website, it doesn’t look like Dan’s exporting much.  There’s nothing on his website that would welcome a foreign dealer.  Complaining about fair playing fields will not change the fact that the U.S. is a mature economy with commensurate prices.  Mass-produced products will be made in cheaper locations.  He’s obviously proud that his products are made in the USA, but if you don’t market your products to all the world rather than just to the good old US of A, the rest of the world probably won’t seek you out.

I even question the wisdom of depending on a cheap dollar to sell American products.  Meyer cites Sawmill Hydraulics product’s being priced 30-50% lower than global competitors, which is great, but when the dollar starts to appreciate, how will they be successful?  Besides, eventually someone in a low-cost country will copy it, (with or without violating  intellectual property protections), & sell it for less, & Sawmill will have to depend on something other than price to sell.

I’m getting sick & tired of people who don’t know what they’re talking about quoting “experts” & publishing articles in mainstream media which lead the public astray.  Somebody please show me a company that puts together a plan, pursues the best-qualified partners &/or customers, & takes a long-term view.  From the looks of the websites of these firms, if I were a foreign buyer, I’d question how much attention they would pay to me.  There is a danger in promoting America too much.  I think it better to promote products to the world rather than just 1 country.

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